Specialized NY Police Squad Investigates Traffic Deaths

Twenty-four New York police officers are given the job of investigating the city's serious traffic crashes. The first thing the officers need to determine at any roped-off crash scene is whether a crime has actually taken place.

These fatal car crashes cover a wide-ranging spectrum of class, wealth, and neighborhood. The accidents are unlike violent crime, which affects certain parts of the city more than others. When a crash occurs, and a paramedic lists a patient as critical, the Collision Investigation Squad detectives respond.

The detectives examine these crashes, focusing attention and resources on a specific kind of violent death in the streets -- the victims who are walking, riding bicycles, or in a vehicle. The highway Patrol division oversees this collision squad which quickly converges on a motor vehicle accident.

The multitude of people riding on Citi Bikes has only increased the need for detectives to be trained in analyzing complex crash scenes. Additionally, the collision squad has been reinforced with more detectives, state-of-the-art mapping tools, and authorization to investigate roughly three times as many crashes this year as the year before.

Once the job of two police officers armed with a tape measure, a pencil, and a clipboard, a crash scene today only requires a single detective. The officer maps the outline of the scene, the shape of the debris field, and any bloodstains. The officer also carries a computerized wand, topped by a geodetic orange prism, that sends information back to a computerized device. The data are used to create a more precise map that can help recreate the crash.

Those who are legally responsible for a person's death can be held accountable in a court of law by the surviving family through a wrongful death suit. To determine the negligence of another, it is very important investigators immediately locate witnesses and obtain statements. A legal professional at Raphaelson & Levine will coordinate a detailed investigation into the accident and then recommend the best course of legal action to take.


The New York Times, "Police Unit Taking Closer Look at Deadly Crashes" J. David Goodman, Jun. 23, 2013

Howard Raphaelson
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Established in New York, NY, his personal injury law firm has obtained numerous million-dollar verdicts. With over twenty-five years of experience as a personal injury attorney, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).
View Attorney Profile